The Powerball jackpot, from the last time I checked, is at over $1.3 billion. I’m sure we can all agree that a sum like that could buy an exorbitant amount of jellybeans.

The skyrocketing jackpot has also led to some good-hearted people to begin passing around memes on social media, using math to show how $1.3 billion could help everyone in the United States and not just one lucky person who may end up investing all of his or her money in a Ponzi scheme. The idea is that $1.3 billion, when split between everyone in the United States, comes out to be $4.33 million.

It’s a nice sentiment. “Poverty solved.” Of course, that doesn’t account for the rest of the world, but one country at a time, please.

Unfortunately, the math doesn’t work for this meme. In reality, $1.3 billion divided by 300 million equals $4.33, which isn’t exactly a poverty-ending sum for Americans.


But even that math is incorrect. The first thing we have to do to the $1.3 million jackpot is trim off the federal tax of about 39.6%, which gives us a still hefty $785.2 million. Then there are the state and local taxes. I’m in New York, so we would get the higher-end 15%, which would leave us with $667.42 million.

And then comes the big hit: a U.S. population of around 318.9 million. Divide $667.42 million by 318.9 million, and you get around $2.09.

And that, readers, is why I got beat up in high school.

By Patrick AE

Patrick is the man behind the man behind the site behind the man.... When he isn't writing for The Inept Owl, saving penguins from Hulk Hogan, and other activities that could be either truths or lies, he's editing everything else.